Showing posts from December, 2013

December 27,2013: Who's in Charge of the Children?

I have a confession. Well, technically WE have a confession. Robbie and I weren't being responsible. Once. Just once.

Hmmmm....let's further narrow it down to the holidays. There was this one time over the holidays that Robbie and I weren't exactly responsible. Not horrible, but not our shining moment either.

The Setting:
December of 1989. Apartment living off of 108th and Maple in Omaha, Nebraska.

The Cast of Characters:
Sandy: 22 years; Robbie: days shy of 22 years; Russell: 3 years; Brynnie: 18 months. Scott worked nights at the jail. Robbie went to surgery tech school and lived with Scott & Sandy during the week.

The Story:
It was a very cold early-December Friday night. Robbie and kids decided to stay the night in Omaha. Scott was at work until midnight. I thought writing Christmas cards was a good idea. Robbie agreed.

So we wrapped up the children in their warmest winter-wear and walked across the street to the closest grocer, Albertson's. With Russell and Bryn…

December 25, 2013: The Sounds and Smells of Christmas

As I read people's Christmas posts and their words of fond holiday stories from years past, I'm reminded of the little things that rest in our happy memories. It really is the sights, sounds and smells of the season that linger.

My own personal treasure chest of memories may seem incidental to most, but these little bits of Christmas fill my heart with emotion each time I reflect...
The warmth of the stove on my three-year old back as I sat next to it, playing with my magnetic alphabet set. I was allowed to open one gift early on Christmas Eve. An act of charity as I was home bound with the Chicken Pox. We did not go to our grandparents that year. Mom cooked a turkey and our little family stayed home.The sight of a three-wick candle burning brightly in the formal living room. The lights were dimmed with Elvis singing Christmas carols from vinyls in the background. Our record player was a large piece of furniture used to display our favorite holiday knick-knacks.The chime of my…

December 24, 2013: First Christmas in Arizona

My parents moved to Kingman, Arizona in 1986. This decision rocked my world. I had just chosen to go to college nine miles from my hometown. A year later they chose to move 1,517 miles away from my childhood home. I didn't see this coming and they certainly didn't ask for my pre-approval.

They moved in the fall, shortly after I started my sophomore year. I had just started dating Scott and my brother, Matt, had finished a two year stint in the army and was attending college in Fort Dodge.

As we faced our first Christmas outside of our comfortable existence in Remsen, Mom and Dad surprised us with plane tickets to Arizona. This was our first visit to their new home. Mark drove up to join us from Tempe.

I had mixed emotions about this holiday trip. Every family tradition I loved was now history. I had just started dating Scott and couldn't fathom the prospect of being separated from my boyfriend. Matt and I were both enjoying our college years. Christmas breaks in Remsen in…

December 21, 2013: I Believe

I never believed in Santa. <sigh>

My non-belief in Santa is a dark secret of my childhood. I have no memory of ever believing. My mom tells me that on my second Christmas, I crawled out of my crib before anyone was awake and opened the presents under the tree. My vague recollection of this event isn't about the magic of Santa, but only of the pretty wrapping paper.

Our next door neighbor, Michael Wischnewski, told me there was no Santa Claus. I was three. He was thirteen. Mom was furious. The resulting impact to me: no memories of lying in bed on Christmas Eve, waiting in exhilaration for Santa as visions of sugar plums danced in my head. <another sigh>

That being said, I do remember trying really hard to believe. Growing up, I watched my friends experience the magic of Santa Claus as I tried to convince myself that this fanciful man existed. What I did believe in was the magic of Christmas. This was very real to me as a child. Christmas time was special. I was rais…

December 20, 2013: The Year Matt Spilled the Beans

I have always enjoyed the joy of a great surprise. Growing up, I would often asked to be surprised with gifts rather than having each present chosen to my specifications. Unwrapping a pink flowered robe on Christmas day, knowing my mom had picked out this retail treasure just for me, was bliss.

My brothers, on the other hand, did not buy into my naive wonderment. Their Christmastime goal was to uncover every hidden treasure and unwrap in advance of Christmas Day. And no matter how hard I tried to resist their Grinch antics, I would ultimately cave. I was a willing participant in a trio of holiday hi-jinx.

The year of note was during our pre-teen years. Old enough to babysit ourselves, our parents would leave us alone when they would go out. During the holiday season, they were gone most weekends socializing. The minute Mom and Dad would walk out the door to go out to dinner or to a holiday gala, we three kids would begin tearing the house apart; scavenging for our Christmas gifts.


December 15, 2013: Silent Night

We attended a beautiful Christmas performance in Denver this weekend. It was full of acting, dancing and singing. The gifted soloists were backed by a mega choir. They collectively rocked all of the "favorites" of Christmas.

As a pretty blonde songstress sang a perfectly pitched Silent Night, I found myself misty-eyed. In fact, I fought the tears that were edging my eyelids; wanting to stream my cheeks. This song does this to me every time, without fail. And every time I think of a Christmas Eve, many moons ago, that will always delicately rest in my happy memory.

This Christmas season, I am busy. And not busy in a Christmas way. It's been busy in a work, long football season, get engaged kind of way. But I have found there are benefits to all of that. Namely, that I'm not trying to "fit it all in". Rather than me scrambling to pull it all together, I am taking a minimalist approach; no Christmas cards, few gifts, no hosted parties, no cookies or baked Che…

December 13, 2013: B & N

I stopped at Barnes and Noble today. With a gift exchange tonight centering around books, I needed to grab a couple of specific titles. As I meandered around the store, searching for my desired purchases; I was quickly reminded of how times have changed.

My immediate observation was that I hadn't been to B & N for ages. One year, to be exact. I was in the store last Christmas to buy a book on cars for a charity event. I haven't been back since. Although I wouldn't have believed this fate five years prior, it was reality.

A trip to Barnes and Noble was a weekly outing as my boys grew up. We would wander the aisles, checking out the glorious volumes of bound paper. As the boys carefully examined everything from action comics to their favorite reading series, I would eventually be drawn to the "employee recommendations" section. All-time best sellers would catch my eye as well. Although I am realist in knowing this goal is likely unattainable, I do have a desir…

December 10, 2013: The Blonde Bomb

Although my hope is for Ben's blondish-orange mop to be short lived, I've grown used to this look. I would go as far as to say, I'm fond of his shock top. When he first arrived home with his newly dyed do, I didn't feel this same sentiment.

It was a bit of a shock to look at each day, but warm a reminder of the unity of the Skutt football team. Silly was the thought of the adults. Good karma was the thought of the boys. Obviously the boys won out. The hair followed them to the championship game.

The title win is now becoming a distant memory, but the hair remains. I have noticed other players with new buzz cuts or hair dyed back to their normal color. Not Ben. He is going to enjoy every inch of blonde until it grows out. He foresees no buzz in his future. The nickname sticks.

Ben's Muppet-like hair is fitting to his over-the-top personality. Although a football decision, I could easily see a changed hair color in Ben's future repertoire. The child has a expans…

December 6, 2013: A Sweet Surprise

It's official. Garrett and I are engaged. And I never thought there would be an engagement. A marriage; yes. But an engagement? That was a complete surprise.

We have recently been discussing marriage. But I thought the next step would be an entry into our combined Outlook calendars for a wedding date. Ultimately Garrett surprised me with the unexpected.

As you can surmise, there is a story that I will share. In this case there are really two stories that link together. One four years ago and the main feature; last night.

Let's start with the story of last night. This story centers around a ring. A beautiful ring. As Garrett and I discussed getting married, we agreed that details like a fancy white dress and wedding hoopla were unnecessary at our age with round two into the marriage arena. I was happy with this laid back approach.

The only detail where we differed in thought was on the ring. Garrett thought simple wedding bands would be nice. I didn't want to appear high m…

December 3, 2013: Bo who?

I am sick of hearing about Bo Pelini. No offense to those embroiled in the debate. I'm not being judgmental, just honest. As many throw around their coveted opinions of the University, I am going to take this time to thank UNL. Some well-deserved diversion from controversy for a simple act of kindness is due.

This gesture may seem small to others, but it meant a lot to us. And that's what the greatest acts of kindness are all about; small gestures that generate a lasting impact.

When our high school boys earned a trip to Memorial Stadium to play for the championship, we were thrilled. Traveling to this venue for their grand finale was a treat. As we planned for this event, it became apparent that the outdoors on a late November night was not an ideal option for many of the boys' grandparents.

Ben's grandpa is recovering from heart surgery. He can't sit out in the cold. With two grandsons on the team and a love for Memorial Stadium, the thought of his watching this…

December 1, 2013: God Gave Me Boys

When Grant was eight, he missed a football practice because Nebraska Football Fan Day conflicted. I called the coach to tell him about Grant's pending absence. His response wasn't one of annoyance, but instead admiration.

"Wow, that's so cool that you're taking Grant to Lincoln to meet the football team. My mom would have never done that for me growing up. I hope Grant appreciates it."

His response actually took me aback. Didn't all moms take their kids to Lincoln for all things Husker football? I marked my calendar religiously for theses events; the spring game, fan day, and the regular season games. And we almost always hit an away game each year as well.

What I have learned, although not previously suspected, is that these are typically dad/son trips. Moms and sons spending time together at sporting events appear to be an anomaly. But not at my house. God gave me boys.

My life has been free of American Girl Dolls and dance recitals, but instead full o…